Testifying on policing reform, George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that his brother’s killing was “a modern-day lynching in broad daylight.” George Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police officers triggered outrage all over the world.
“I couldn’t take care of George the day he was killed,” added Philonise Floyd, “but maybe by speaking with you today, I can help make sure that his death isn’t in vain. To make sure that he is more than another face on a t-shirt. More than another name on a list that won’t stop growing.”
Confederate symbols are disappearing all over the American South, and as America debates how to move forward, citizen of many countries continue to protest, demanding justice for Floyd, and for other African-Americans. Thousands of anti-racism demonstrators flooded London and other UK cities last weekend, in a show of unity with the American protesters.
One of the photographers on the scene in London, shooting and shouting “Black Lives Matter,” was Misan Harriman, the Nigerian-British founder of What We Seee, a fast-growing digital media platform that believes that “there are two ways to win the Internet: one is with extremism, and the other is with empathy.” We caught up with Harriman earlier this week, for an interview. We asked him what he saw.
Were you surprised by the crowds you saw in London when you first went out to Trafalgar Square?
Yes, because I had no idea how many people would come. Very soon it was clear to me that George Floyd’s whisper for justice was becoming a loud and sustained cry across the world.
The UK is not known for widespread police brutality against blacks. Why did so many Londoners support the Black Lives Matter protests?
Because racism isn’t just violence, it is about being seen as lesser than you are in every aspect of your life, from education, healthcare and job prospects. This silent but present side of oppression has destroyed multiple generations of black men and women.
Why do you think George Floyd’s death shocked the world, more than other black victims of police violence?
Because it was seen. My media business is called What We Seee for good reason. Human being haven’t had the opportunity to share information at the pace and this scale before. This changes everything.
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These past few weeks, we've seen the world open its eyes to the realities of racism today. People all over the world have united, and are using their voices and platforms in the fight for racial equality, and against police brutality and white supremacy. While we still have a long way to go in addressing this issue, I want to take a moment to appreciate the positive steps that have been taken so far, as a result of our collective voices and actions. We've seen laws being passed. We’ve seen police officers held accountable and charged for their fatal actions. Brands have started to align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, and are educating themselves on how they can do better. There's also been a surge in the sale of anti-racist books, and many are watching films and documentaries to better educate themselves on our experience. More and more, we are seeing people wanting to learn about black history. This is only the beginning and there is still so much change to come. 📸: @misanharriman
You are the father of two young biracial girls in London. How do you intend to reach them about racial justice?
Educate, educate, EDUCATE! Make sure the have a balance understanding of the past and present in order to prepare them for the future.
Do you believe the UK is a racist country?
If there are people of colour that have less of a chance to live a decent life ONLY because of the colour of their skin then any country with this issue has a race problem.